“My goal is to be more balanced.”
Have you ever heard this before? Or maybe said it yourself? Balance is something I chased after for years, but the definition of balance I had in mind was really unhelpful because it was unattainable. The journal prompts I'm sharing today are part of a weekly rhythm that can help you find more balance and less guilt and frustration.
For a long time I had the notion that I would find the right schedule/tool/idea/organization system etc. and then everything (magically) would be balanced. I pictured balance as a calm state in which everything feels peaceful and calm. I saw “balance” as something to achieve – a place to get to.
In hindsight, this was another perfectionism trap. Looking at balance as a crystallized state of being meant I was always falling short and always trying to be something I was not.
Currently I look at balance as an ongoing practice. I don't have to do everything right to make things balanced. Instead, I can keep rolling along and just re-balance when things feel off. I use the concept of having a breathing rhythm to remember how to balance.
A Breathing Rhythm Helps Give You Balance
My step mom taught kindergarten for over 30 years (and isn't the phrase that all we need to know, we learned in kindergarten?). One of the most helpful concepts she taught me came from her experience as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher. It's the idea of having a “breathing rhythm” to my days, my weeks, even my year.
Think of it as breathing in and breathing out – a natural, healthy rhythm. We breath in, centering ourselves, turning thoughts and energy inward. We breath out – on the move again, activities and energy pushing outward. I turn to this idea of breath when I feel “off kilter” or out of balance. Balance is not a “still” state. It's dynamic, requiring shifting and adjustment to maintain. Breathe in. Breathe out.
You know that feeling you have when one of your kids has had a stomach flu for 2 days, another kid is in a fight-you-all-the-time phase and then the dishwasher breaks? We've all had times like this right? They certainly don't feel “balanced” in that calm way I was striving for for so long.
We all have times like this when we're going and going; we're helping others, “putting out fires”, pushing, pushing, pushing each day, each moment to keep going. We're in a constant breathe out state. After a while it feels like we're losing touch with the things that matter, and the further we get from center, the harder it is to remember how to get back to a more balanced state.
This is when, instead of getting down on ourselves, it's time to recognize we've only been breathing out. We need to breathe in.
How do you breathe in?
One of the easiest ways to “catch your breath” is to do a check in with yourself on a journal page. In my book, Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection Not Perfection I shared a set of weekly check in questions.
I encourage you to do a check-in at the end of the week, but that's more a matter of making it a habit. This is actually a page you can use anytime. Even if it's a Wednesday. Even if you haven't written in your journal for ages. Doing a check-in gives you a breath in so that you can come back to yourself. It helps you balance all that outward energy, and gives you the ability to set out again a little more steady for the pause.
This is a tool that's helpful in any ordinary week, but it's particularly useful to use as a tool for getting centered again if you're starting to feel like you don't know what to do next, or where to start – it's a good time to do a check in and remind yourself what all you've been doing, how you're growing right now and what you're wanting to do next.
Check in pages help us notice what the reality is right now so we can be present in our lives.
Your Balance To Do List:
- Print out check-in pages for the next few weeks and choose a day you'll check in. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to.
- If you're feeling out of sorts, start today by filling out one of these sheets.
- When you find yourself feeling bad because part of your life is out of balance, remember that balance is a practice. It takes awareness to notice when you feel off and re-calibrate. Your'e not a failure for getting off balance, you're a human and part of that is this breathing in and breathing out.